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07 May 2019 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Charl Devenish
Noko Masalesa
Noko Masalesa, Director of Protection Services, in conversation with students and stakeholders to plan a safe way forward.

Safety and security are human rights that constitute social justice. At the centre of the agenda at the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Social Justice Week held on the Bloemfontein Campus from 17-22 April 2019 were discussions about off-campus safety. Stakeholders agreed on an upgrade to security measures in order to ensure the success and wellbeing of the student population.

A call to students

Prof John Mubangizi, Dean of the Faculty of Law, in his capacity as representative of the UFS Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen, expressed his view on institutions of higher learning no longer functioning as ivory towers. “For any initiative to succeed, collaboration is necessary between key roleplayers,” he said.

He aptly pointed out that: “We cannot underscore the importance of safety and security, not only for the university but also for the communities around us. What the university does benefits the community and vice versa. I pledge the university’s commitment to play a leading part to ensure that the collaboration works,” said Prof Mubangizi.

Beefing up security: Who is involved?

In view of the collaborative effort Prof Mubangizi alluded to, the engagement was twofold. First was the roundtable discussion facilitated by Protection Services which then escalated into a public dialogue where students had the opportunity to interact with external delegates.

The South African Police Services, Community Police Forum, Private Security, Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality, Provincial Commissioner, and Deputy Minister of Police were well represented in this critical conversation. Internally, members of Protection Services, Housing and Residence Affairs, Student Affairs, Institute for Social Justice and Reconciliation, Student Representative Council, and the Department of Criminology heard the plight of off-campus safety faced by students.

Changes in the horizon

The discussions culminated with recommendations which will see the future of student safety take a different direction. According to Skhululekile Luwaca, former SRC president, these include “the municipality’s commitment to immediately address issues such as street lights and enforcing by-laws, ensuring an integrated accreditation system, and drafting a policy for off-campus accommodation, running more crime awareness campaigns, and giving police patrols more visibility.”

In addition to resolving to set up a student safety forum with all the stakeholders, the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality has invited the UFS to join Reclaim the City – a safety forum where practical solutions to crime are devised and implemented on a weekly basis.


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The beginning of the person you want to be
2015-01-29

“The University of the Free State is a caring community where everybody counts.” With this message, Dr Choice Makhetha, Vice-Rector: External Relations welcomed our first-years on the Qwaqwa Campus.

“Whether you are a first-year or a senior student, whether you are a cleaner or a research professor, we all have one thing in common: our humanity,” Dr Makhetha said.

“This is the stage where you are going to shape the person you want to be,” Dr Makhetha said to the audience of eager first-year students who had already spent a week undergoing a rigorous Gateway Orientation programme.

“A lot of things will happen during your stay here and one of them is making friends. Make friends with people from outside your comfort zone,” Dr Makhetha added. “Make friends with those who have a totally different background from yours so that you can learn, broaden and enrich your life.”

“Read broadly and ask questions – for questions will take you far beyond your area of study,” she said.

Zethu Mhlongo, Deputy President of the Qwaqwa Campus Student Representative Councisel (SRC), encouraged first-years to always remember why they chose our university in the first place.

“Enjoy your stay, get your degree and step up for success,” Mhlongo said.

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